Beef Up Your Data Protection Strategy to Match Business Needs

Events such as the 9/11 attacks and the tsunami in Japan have caused many organizations to reassess their overall data protection strategies for data backup and recovery, disaster recovery and business continuity, as well as long-term retention and security of their data. However, most business downtime is caused not by catastrophic events or major natural disasters but by hardware failures, data loss, power outages or UPS failures, network outages, security breaches, human error and application failures.

Here are the Top 5 ways to help your organization keep its existing backup and recovery solution and overall data protection strategy up to speed:

1.    Review the backup solution annually to ensure backup and recovery of business data are adequate to meet the demands of the business. The backup solution and overall data protection strategy have not kept pace with the impact of exponential data growth and/or changes to business requirements for retention, compliance and security. Backup windows are shrinking, but the amount of data being backed up keeps growing. Review backup pools, frequency, scheduling and retention for different data types and classes to ensure alignment to the data value to the business.

2.    Focus the data protection strategy primarily on ensuring that data is being backed up instead of ensuring that data can be recovered. Create a backup and recovery solution that goes beyond basic recovery of the occasional lost or mistakenly deleted file. Leverage it to provide the right level of disaster recovery and business continuity capability. Ensure that recovery time and recovery point objectives for critical business data can be met.

3.    Monitor and report end-to-end backup performance to help identify potential bottlenecks before they become an issue. Bottlenecks in the backup solution change over time and so end-to-end performance needs period review to make the most of the backup solution.

4.    Migrate older backups or delete data that no longer has any legal requirement for retention. Though older backups residing on legacy technologies or formats may not be recoverable, many organizations maintain older legacy tape media formats without any reliable means to recover the data that resided on them. E-discovery requests are more and more common. Trying to retain legacy data that can’t be recovered reliably can come back to haunt you.

5.    Review new or alternate technologies which can be easily integrated and enhance the existing backup solution. Consider disk-based or virtual tape solutions as an intermediate backup layer to enable faster backups or review options for cloud-based backup and storage services.

Backups are pointless if data recovery fails or is insufficient to meet business requirements and objectives. Don’t over- or under-configure the backup solution; rather, right-size the solution and leverage a mix of backup technologies and platforms to ensure a data protection strategy that delivers the right balance between risk and cost.

Once implemented, backup solutions should not be considered static and expected to run unmodified forever. Make sure the backup and recovery solution is flexible and responsive by reviewing and reconfiguring backups as technologies and business needs change.

By Cindy LaChapelle, Principal Consultant, ISG

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